U.S. Supreme Court Notebook

U.S. Supreme Court to hear ­Arizona man’s death penalty case

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has added five new cases to their merits docket for next term, including the death penalty case of an Arizona man convicted of killing two people 28 years ago.

At issue is whether high court rulings that have changed death penalty cases since James Erin McKinney’s initial sentence should be applied to his case and other death row inmates convicted before 2002.

McKinney was sentenced to death in 1993 after being convicted of murdering a woman in her Chandler home during a March 1991 robbery and fatally shooting a man days later in another Phoenix-area robbery.

A federal appeals court overturned the sentence in 2015, ruling the Arizona Supreme Court didn’t properly weigh mitigating factors.

Last September, the state’s high court again upheld McKinney’s death sentences.


U.S. Supreme Court will hear Montana arsenic cleanup case

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether residents of two Montana communities can continue their decade-long effort to get the Atlantic Richfield Co. to pay for a more thorough cleanup of arsenic left on properties after a century of copper smelting.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled in December 2017 for the residents of Opportunity and Crackerville.

They sued in 2008 seeking to force Arco to reduce arsenic levels to the area’s normal level, 25 parts per million.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said cleanup was required when arsenic levels were above an “acceptable” level of 250 parts per million.

Arco appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing federal law prohibited state lawsuits from interfering with an ongoing cleanup.

The Montana Standard reports the justices agreed Monday to hear Arco’s appeal.


Daughter of ‘tiger mom’ Chua picked as Kavanaugh law clerk

WASHINGTON (AP) — The daughter of Yale Law School professor and “tiger mom” Amy Chua, who praised Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a mentor to women after his nomination to the Supreme Court, is going to work for Kavanaugh this summer.

Yale Law graduate Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld will serve as a law clerk to Kavanaugh for a year, beginning this summer, the court confirmed Monday. Chua-Rubenfeld had planned to work for Kavanaugh when he served as a federal appeals court judge, but his Supreme Court nomination intervened.

Shortly after the nomination, Chua penned a Wall Street Journal essay extolling Kavanaugh “as a mentor for young lawyers, particularly women.”

Chua, who wrote a book called “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” that describes her tough Chinese-style parenting on her two daughters, said she came to know Kavanaugh because she served on the Yale panel that sought to place graduates in prestigious federal clerkships. She said she helped eight women and two men get jobs in his court office over a decade.

“These days the press is full of stories about powerful men exploiting or abusing female employees. That makes it even more striking to hear Judge Kavanaugh’s female clerks speak of his decency and his role as a fierce champion of their careers,” Chua wrote.

The essay was published before a woman came forward alleging Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her during a party decades ago, when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh angrily denied the allegations.

Chua faced criticism that her essay was self-serving and that her daughter was virtually guaranteed a Supreme Court job with Kavanaugh. Chua-Rubenfeld responded on Twitter last year that she wouldn’t be applying for a Supreme Court clerkship “anytime soon” because she had to fulfill her military service obligation after attending college on an ROTC scholarship.

Neither Chua nor Chua-Rubenfeld responded to emails seeking comment Monday.

Chua-Rubenfeld’s hiring was first reported by author and lawyer David Lat on his Supreme Ambitions Twitter feed.


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